Concerned? Get the facts about the COVID-19 vaccines
Every day, more people across California are getting the COVID-19 vaccine. But some still have concerns and aren’t getting vaccinated. Is it safe? How does it work? Do I really need it? These questions are common.
The data shows that the vaccines:
- Prevent COVID-19 infection,
- Reduce risk of going to the hospital,
- Reduce risk of death,
- Reduce risk of severe symptoms, and
- Are scientifically proven to be safe and effective.
Knowing this, it can still be hard to separate what’s true from what’s false about the vaccines. Misinformation or too much data can lead to confusion. Here are some facts to help you make the best choice to protect yourself and your family.
Why vaccinate? Won’t herd immunity protect me?
Herd immunity is when enough people are immune to a disease that it makes spreading it to others unlikely. This helps protect the whole community, not just those who are immune. Herd immunity usually occurs two ways – through vaccines and infection.
The COVID-19 vaccines are by far the safest way to help achieve herd immunity. No deaths or hospitalizations have occurred because of the vaccines. However, the virus that causes COVID-19 poses a much greater risk of hospitalization or death. Plus, we still aren’t sure how long immunity from infection lasts. This is why even if you have had COVID-19, you should still get vaccinated.
In order to achieve herd immunity, a large part of the population needs to be immune. So by getting vaccinated, you’re doing your part to help end the pandemic. You are also protecting the very few people who cannot be vaccinated due to severe allergy to vaccine ingredients or other health reasons.
Why are there so many different vaccines?
Due to the severity of the pandemic, governments worldwide and private drug companies worked together to develop as many options as possible to fight the virus. Each company took a slightly different approach. But all the approved vaccines are equally safe and effective.
- Pfizer-BioNTech – 95% effective 14 days after second dose
- Moderna – 94.1% effective 14 days after second dose
- Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) – 85% effective after 28 days
These numbers are quite high for vaccines. To give some perspective, flu shots are typically only 40 to 60% effective.
Since all the vaccines are safe and effective, it’s usually best to get the first available to you. But, if you feel more comfortable choosing a specific one, you can search availability using the Vaccine Finder website.
Read our article about the vaccines’ safety, effectiveness, and side effects.
I am morally opposed to vaccines because of my religion. What can I do?
For many who are religious, there is concern about the vaccines’ possible use of fetal cell lines. None of the vaccines have fetal cell lines in them. Also, neither the Pfizer/BioNTech nor the Moderna vaccine use fetal cell lines for production. But fetal cell lines were used early in development to show “proof of concept” – meaning they were used to show that new vaccine technology would create an immune response. For Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), fetal cell lines were used for testing and are used for production.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Pope Francis have acknowledged this concern. They still recommend getting vaccinated “given the world-wide suffering that this pandemic is causing.” They suggest that “being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good.” They say that if you have a choice, go with either Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. But if you don’t have a choice, being vaccinated is better than not.
I read on social media the vaccines are dangerous. What’s the real truth?
Social media can be a great place to stay connected to friends and family. It’s also full of a lot of misinformation. Whether intentional or not, there are a number of myths floating around about the COVID-19 vaccines. Altered DNA, getting sick from the vaccines, even microchips – there’s a lot out there that is simply false.
The pandemic can be scary for many people. It’s understandable to want to have firm answers when there are so many unknowns. But we must trust the science – and it takes time to do research. Plus many of these myths put your health and the health of those you love at risk.
One way to get the facts is to rely on trusted sources of information. Some of the most trusted sources include:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The World Health Organization
- National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (led by Dr. Anthony Fauci)
You can also talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or someone from a local clinic if you have questions. And you can read our vaccine myth-busting article to learn more.
I’ve heard it’s hard to get a vaccine appointment. Are there any available?
Appointments are based on eligibility. The State of California has made it easy to find out when it’s your turn to get vaccinated. While initial supplies were limited, supplies are expected to increase between spring and summer. And, as of April 15th, every Californian aged 16 and older will become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
There are many factors in place to help you get vaccinated when you are eligible. First, the vaccine is free for everyone – regardless of immigration status or insurance.
You can sign up on the My Turn website to see if you are eligible for a vaccine. You can also set up an appointment. Or, you can get notifications when the vaccine is available in your area. The site is available in eight languages and is accessible to those with disabilities.
You can also call the California COVID-19 hotline at (833) 422-4255, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Translation services are available both for the hotline and at all vaccination sites. All the sites are ADA accessible as well.
If transportation is an issue, your health plan may be able to help. If you have a transportation benefit, you can get to and from a vaccination site at no additional cost. This may apply if you are a member of the following plans:
- Blue Shield Medicare Advantage
- Blue Shield Promise
- Medi-Cal Blue Shield Promise Cal Mediconnect
Talk to your case manager or review your Evidence of Coverage or Member Handbook for more details.
It’s important get the facts about the COVID-19 vaccines. This way, you can feel better about getting vaccinated when it’s your turn. In the end, getting the vaccinated protects you, your loved ones, and your community. And it will help you get back to doing the things you love.
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